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'Occupy' Protest Moves to Walnut Creek

Some 200 demonstrators make points about corporate political ties and inequities.

With protest signs and chants ringing through downtown Walnut Creek, an "Occupy" group Wednesday evening expressed its frustration with inequities and corporate ties to the country's political elite.

Clyde Rich of Rossmoor decried "a toxic politics that is not only destroying the economy but the government and the American dream."

The demonstration seemed to peak at 4:30 with three short speeches (including one by Rich) that drew about 125 people to the sidewalk in front of the Bank of America on North Main Street. At the same time, a stone's throw away, about 40 protesters each waved signs on two corners of Main Street and Mount Diablo.

"The corporations and the wealthiest people, they don't pay taxes," said Kathy Colliau of Walnut Creek, on one corner. "When prices go up, it's the 99 percent that suffer … I'm not poor, but I see it's unfair. It's worse for my (adult) children … I can't imagine what their economic future is."

It appears that globalization has aggravated society's gap between the wealthiest and the majority of people, Colliau said.

A recurring chant was "Hey, hey, ho, ho, corporate greed has got to go."

A sampling of protest signs:

  • Banks got bailed out. People got sold out.
  • There's enough for everyone's need, but not everyone's greed.
  • Eliminate corporate campaign funding.
  • Human needs, not BofA greed.
  • How is the war economy working for you?

The Occupy Wall Street movement has moved way beyond Wall Street in the last month. In Northern California, it has pushed out to the suburbs. Coinciding with the Walnut Creek demonstration was .

"The collusion between business and government needs to be challenged," said another speaker, Ken Richard of Walnut Creek. Richard said Occupy Wall Street Walnut Creek planned to hold another protest in the same place at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 19.

Last Friday, Richard and his activist colleague, Kathy Klein, had lunch at a Chinese restaurant and started talking over ideas for a Walnut Creek protest.

"All the buzz was about Occupy Wall Street," said Richard. Wednesday's action in downtown Walnut Creek came together with emails and Facebook and tweets, and some media contacts, Richard said: "It's an organic movement." Richard said his own activism goes back decades to age 16 in his native Miami working on gay rights.

The activists who showed up were moved by "an inner voice that made us care," said Richard. Although political opponents portray the Occupy movement as an "unruly mob" with an unclear agenda, Richard said the movement has salient issues that move its compassion for:

  • 24 million who are unemployed and underemployed.
  • 50 million who have no health care.
  • 15 million who owe more money on their homes than they are worth.
  • 46 million Americans who are in poverty and the working poor.

"We're here today," said Richard. "We are the majority — 99 percent … we are not against capitalism; we are against corporate greed."

Rich, a former head of the Rossmoor Democratic Club, said he represented the senior citizen segment of the 99 percent (referring to the growing gap between the wealthiest 1 percent in the country and the other 99 percent).

"I thought my demonstration days were over and I could sit back and relax," said Rich. "But because today's political situation is so unjust, I realize I can't be silent."

Michael Veiluva of Concord spoke briefly in front of Bank of America. He urged activists that "organizing has to happen immediately." A group that formed Sunday in an informal meeting in Concord — Contra Costa 99 Percent — is looking for stalwarts to join, he said.

Marty Loggins October 16, 2011 at 01:42 PM
They're pathetic. I doubt if any of them have jobs or watch Fox.
Bergie October 17, 2011 at 12:41 AM
Protesting rampant unemployment by protesting against the COMPANIES WHO HIRE PEOPLE! OK.....time to say "get off the bong"! And the lady quoted who said that "The corporations and the wealthy people....they don't pay taxes". HELLO?? Time to put down the bong hippie woman. The 53% upper income people in the country PAY ALL THE TAXES!! And how about protesting against GE (Obama's buddy) who pay 0 in taxes? Oh, but they make flourescent lights, which will save the world from hitting 212 degrees some day, so we won't hold GE accountable. May I suggest holding the next O.W.S. protest rally at the Planetarium in S.F.? A little bong action.....some Pink Floyd......a little tie-dye?? It'll be like the 60's all over! And you can cross out Wall St. and write in "Vietnam War"!!
Mom of the Horde October 17, 2011 at 07:08 AM
They were protesting in front of Bank of America, which not only received bail out money, but has also off-shored hundreds of jobs to places like India and Costa Rica. They're not really hiring many people... matter of fact they're getting ready to lay off thousands more employees.
Brad Heckman October 21, 2011 at 12:52 AM
No use arguing with the frightened clueless hippy-punching Limbeck listeners. Just feel compassion and try to comfort them. Eventually you will not be able to find them, just like you can't find anyone who voted for Nixon ;-)
Paul R. Haller May 04, 2012 at 07:00 PM
I was there, I have had a job for the last 28 years and I am angry at the injustices I see in America. I am angry because if we work all our lives and retire we can't afford to get sick. I am angry because we spend so much money on war and it comes out of our pockets and away from social programs. Now we are talking about cutting social security. When will it end? What kind of world do we leave for our children? I protest because if I don't, what will be left for future generations?

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